Co-parenting after a divorce is often difficult for everyone involved, including the parents, the children, and the other members of their family and community who lean in to lend assistance and love.
Often, parents allow their personal conflicts to affect their treatment of each other. In many cases, this may violate their parenting agreement or custody order. This is particularly common when it comes to conflicts over custody time. Unfortunately, some parents seem to think that a custody order is a flexible outline of how parenting time gets divided when it is convenient, not a legally binding document.
You may have your own experiences in which your child's other parent does not respect your rights to court-ordered time with your child, and you should not take these lightly. You may have grounds to file a complaint in court, and it may lead to serious consequences for the guilty parent. Understanding the legal tools you have to protect your rights as a parent is an essential part of navigating life after divorce.
Is your child's other parent stealing your custody time?
Scheduling conflicts and unforeseen emergencies can happen to all of us, and we must keep that in mind while defending parenting time. If your child's other parent is late to exchange custody because they were rear-ended in a car accident, some flexibility is warranted. However, if your child's other parent repeatedly misses exchange meetings or changes custody schedules without consulting you, then you may need to review your options.
This may qualify as direct parenting time interference, and serious violations can lead to a parent losing privileges or possibly spending some time behind bars.
Is your child's other parent manipulating your relationship?
It is also possible for a parent to interfere without affecting their custody schedule. Some punctual and consistent parents still behave badly and attempt to disrupt the other's relationship with their child. This can take many forms, so it is important to consult the law about your circumstances.
Indirect parenting time interference can occur when one parent creates barriers that make it difficult for the other parent to communicate with their child, like refusing to put the child on the phone to speak with the other parent.
Likewise, courts do not approve of parents who speak badly about the other parent in front of their child. Behavior that seeks to manipulate the other parent is not something to put up with, it is something to put a stop to.
You deserve the best relationship with your child that you can have. Be sure to use the legal tools available to keep your time with your child protected, giving you the room you need to be the best parent you can.